Russia enters 19 for athletics worlds despite doping ban

Russia enters 19 for athletics worlds despite doping ban
FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 22, 2016 file photo, Russia's Maria Lasitskene smiles with her gold medal after winning the women's high jump competition at a Russian Grand Prix track and field indoor event in Moscow, Russia. Russia plans to send 19 athletes, including Sergei Shubenkov and Maria Lasitskene, to the track and field world championships in London in August 2017 despite its suspension from international competition over widespread doping. The 19, including three former world champions, have been given exemptions from Russia’s suspension after the International Association of Athletics Federations reviewed their history of drug testing. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

By James Ellingworth, Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia plans to send 19 athletes to the track and field world championships in London next week despite its suspension from international competition for widespread doping.

The 19, including three former world champions, have been given exemptions from Russia's suspension after the IAAF reviewed their history of drug testing.

Maria Lasitskene is the overwhelming favorite to retain her high jump title, following an unbeaten season in the Diamond League. No other woman has leapt over two meters this year, but Lasitskene has done it at 11 different competitions.

Sergei Shubenkov leads the charge for Russia's men as he tries to win a second world title in the 110-meter hurdles.

Russian Athletics Federation sporting director Elena Orlova told Tass news agency on Monday that, besides the 19, it also filed paperwork for doping whistleblower and 800-meter runner Yulia Stepanova, though she was rejected by the IAAF. Stepanova has barely raced this year and does not appear to have met the qualifying standard for the championships.

Since they're officially "neutral athletes" under IAAF rules, the Russians won't be allowed to wear national colors and the Russian anthem won't be played if they win gold.

A total of 38 Russians had exemptions that could have allowed them to compete at the championships, but many didn't make the qualifying standards. Eleven more were approved only for youth events, and 106 applications were declined.

Russia has been suspended since November 2015, when the first in a series of World Anti-Doping Agency investigations alleged drug use and cover-ups were common on its track team.

The IAAF said it couldn't confirm the definitive number of Russian entries for the world championships until closer to the competition.

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